Largest academy ever for conservation officer recruits begins training | News, Sports, Jobs

Kip Miyakana (from left), Kauai Island Branch Manager, John Silverstein, Oahu Island Branch Manager, Howard Ridge Reeves, Maui Island Branch Manager and Lenny Terlep Jr., Hawaii Island Branch Manager, are introduced to the conservation officer recruits Monday. Photo courtesy of DLNR

The Maui News

Training for the largest academy of state conservation police officers to date began on Monday. Thirty-seven men and five women from Maui, Oahu, Hawaii and Kauai are preparing to join the ranks next year.

According to a DLNR press release, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Academy for Conservation and Enforcement of Resources includes nine months of classroom instruction, followed by two months in the field under the supervision of a training officer. Of the 42 recruits, eight are from Maui.

“This is the biggest academy we’ve ever hosted,” That’s what DOCARE boss Jason Redulla said on Monday. “This is our third academy and second for recruits who have no prior law enforcement training or experience. It comes at a critical time for us as pressures and impacts on Hawaii’s natural and cultural resources continue to mount. These people will help our existing officers train people using state lands and ocean waters.”

More conservation officers are needed across the state, such as providing 24-hour protection for a mother monk seal and her pup on Oahu’s Kaimana Beach. Lt. Carlton Helm, who leads the academy program for DOCARE, said the new officers will assist with regular patrols as well as large, time-consuming missions and special operations on other islands when needed.

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of being resilient and adapting to the work and professional environment in which we work,” Helm said. “For example, a DOCARE officer on the island of Hawaii needs to respond to the hunting grounds on Mauna Kea one morning and then finds himself in the rainforests of Puna or Volcano by the afternoon. Teaching these recruits how to be adaptable and flexible is an important part of their training. Your body, mind and spirit must be adaptable.”

He added that it took years of work with the governor’s office, the legislature, other state agencies and DLNR leadership to open and fund the largest recruit class in DOCARE history and prepare for the academy’s launch on Monday.

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